Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Conservative Christian

We all use labels, even when we say we don’t.   Understandably, labels are easy-to-use short cuts. They make it simple to know who is who.  Labels group ideologies and provide comfortable paths for us to follow.

Labels, like nicknames, are often prescribed to groups by outsiders.  In the church, we then subscribe to many of the labels that were originally pejorative terms.   'Lutherans' were so-named by Christians faithful to the Pope and Rome as these reformers were seen to follow Luther.  Methodists, Calvinists, Fundamentalists and even Roman Catholics were all pejorative terms at one time that were later embraced.

Christianity and Christian groups often attract labels.  Back in the 80’s the term “born again” was applied so widely that it soon lost its original meaning.  The term ‘evangelical’ was embraced and popularized by Rev. Billy Graham as a reaction to what was termed “fundamentalism.”  Today the word ‘conservative’ is so often the adjective modifying the noun Christian that you would think that political conservatism is inherently part of the Christian faith.

While it may be true that many Christians in the United States tend to be politically conservative, political affiliation is not part of the gospel, the Nicene Creed or any article of faith that I’m aware of in the church.   Christianity is all about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  This relationship doesn’t fit in with any particular political persuasion and it can be argued that being a Christian is actually more of a radical orientation to the rest of the world.

Pastor and author David Platt in his book, “Radical” demonstrates that the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels encourage believers to ‘leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for Him’. To be a true disciple of Jesus calls for a ‘radical abandonment’ of a person’s life all for the privilege of following God.  Christians are to live daily with an urgent obedience to the Great Commission to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:16-20) – concludes Platt.

Christians need to be careful about embracing contemporary and cultural ideologies and then associating them with their Christian faith.   Lower taxes, guns, limited government, a strong defense, and a balanced budget may arguably be good political ideologies, however they should never be confused with Christianity.

Christians have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).  Our faith is found in the essential gospel.  We embrace the unique opportunity for forgiveness for our sins because of the sacrifice that Jesus paid at Calvary.  The calling for those of us in the church is to love, forgive, serve and even sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel and the love of Christ.  We need no further label other than being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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